The Redskins enter their Monday night match-up with the slimiest of playoff hopes, but still had their pride and future jobs to play for. Unfortunately no one apparently told the Redskins they still had something to play for because they simply didn’t show up. While there were major failings on both the defense and special teams (I’ll get to them later), it was the offense that was by far the most disappointing. This team (theoretically at least) is built to be led by their offense. It’s supposed to be a high powered offense, with dynamic play-makers (because who needs an offensive line) and a creative scheme that can create mis-matches. Instead the Redskins managed just 6 points (and even that was lucky) and had under 200 yards.
Yes people will point to the 49ers having a top notch defense, but the Redskins are supposed to have a top notch offense. I mean that is what they’ve spent the majority of their money and picks on during the Mike Shanahan era, it should be able to at least move the football somewhat. It’s not that the 49ers won the game, but rather that they dominated the game. The Redskins offense was manhandled all night and got beat in every facet on offense (and in the entire game). The Redskins top rushing attack was held to just 3.7 yards per carry, The offensive line was owned by the 49ers both against the run and the pass. Receivers and tight ends ran the wrong routes and dropped some passes. The most disturbing thing though was probably how poorly Robert Griffin III played.
While his play has been down all year, he needed to respond after a poor game against the Eagles and all the controversy that flowed from it. He didn’t respond and he cost this team the chance to make this game competitive. Griffin was wildly inaccurate on passes that weren’t screens. His overall numbers were 17-27 for 127 yards and 1 interception, but it was much worse than even those numbers. Griffin was 7 for 8 on screens, meaning he was 10-19 on non screen passes. That is just really poor numbers and shows how little he could do in the pocket. The fact that the Redskins were so reliant on screens, meant that they weren’t generating yardage, as they managed just a paltry 4.7 yards per pass attempt (that is the gross total, not net yardage). Griffin’s poor performance goes beyond just the completion percentage or yards per attempt totals. His interception in the first half was a really poor mistake, throwing the ball with a safety sitting there instead of checking it down since he was under pressure. That is just a mistake you can’t make and the 49ers capitalized with 3 points. Griffin let the pressure get to him quite a bit in this game, and though the offensive line deserves plenty of blame, once again Griffin didn’t respond well to the pressure. Taking sacks and hits he shouldn’t have, throwing that interception and missing open receivers.
Griffin almost cost his team their second field goal right before the end of the first half. After completing a 9 yard pass where Garcon went out of bounds, the Redskins had a 2nd and 1 from the 18 yard line with 41 seconds on the clock.. Despite the fact the clock wasn’t running the Redskins couldn’t get everyone lined up correctly and Griffin took a timeout leaving them with just one remaining. Though some of the blame could maybe be on the coaching staff for not getting the play in there quickly enough, Mike Shanahan was clearly upset with Griffin for taking the timeout. Even if the Redskins weren’t set properly, it would have been better to take the 5 yard penalty than waste a time out. While it would have been awful to have a delay of game, that is better than the situation where the Redskins needed to run the field goal unit out there with a running clock. The Redskins almost didn’t get the chance to run the field goal unit out there because after the timeout Griffin went to scramble and was hit short of the first down line and fumbled the ball. The Redskins were lucky to recover it after the first 49ers player missed it. Griffin has put the ball on the ground far too many times in his young career and while they haven’t all resulted in turnovers, it is a very troubling trend.
Now Griffin is definitely not alone in the blame for the offensive woes as the the offensive line had probably their worst game last night. In other games where the line struggled to pass protect (and there are a few of those), they typically redeemed themselves with a strong performance clearing way for Alfred Morris. That wasn’t the case tonight and what’s so troubling about it is the Redskins had the numbers in their favor. The 49ers trust their base defense so much that they rarely bring an 8th guy into the box to stop the run. Despite having 7-on-7, the Redskins just couldn’t move the ball on the ground. Too many times a back was met in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage, and they couldn’t get any really good runs. The line again struggled in pass protection with 4 sacks allowed (again Griffin deserves some partial blame here) and numerous other pressures/QB hits. What’s even sadder is the fact that since 8 of the Redskins 31 drop backs were screens, that means the Skins gave up 4 sacks in 23 dropbacks. That is just pathetic. This line had no answer for anything the 49ers did and it cost them, and RGIII.
While many will still try to point to where this offense ranks in terms of points and yards it is clear that the offense is part of the problem right now. It might not be as bad as the special teams unit or defense (though it was last night), but considering the offensive expectations and the resources used to build it, it’s a struggling unit that needs some serious help.